Jesus staked his life on the best of Jewish faith and invites you to do the same.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
Let’s dig into the keywords: soul, heart, strength, mind.
First, you do not have a soul. You are a soul. You are not two parts—body and soul, physical and spiritual—constantly at war. Jesus affirms you are already whole: one undivided soul/body.
Next, Jesus reconnects your head, heart, and body, so in God’s love they work together to love both yourself and others. This is a lifelong process, and baptism initiates you into it (once in the past and again every new day).
I’m with Father Richard Rohr, who in his book Breathing Under Water, says, “mere mental belief systems” cannot do it, but only “actual faith.” Faith is a verb. It’s about action. Not heroic action or great sacrifice, but daily practices.
Jesus wants your help to open your head, heart, and body. Pay attention to what activities do that for you.
“Those who love me will keep my word,” Jesus said.
Jesus invites us to surrender our will to God. Each of us have our own ways to win for ourselves happiness, security, admiration, and control. Those who love Jesus accept those ways for what they are--self-defeating. Instead of keeping their ways, they keep Jesus’ word of love and mercy. Father Richard Rohr calls this “a radical surrendering of our will to Another whom we trust more than ourselves.”
When have you had the experience of turning your life over to God? What happened? What is the Holy Spirit teaching you today?
Easter everydayYou do it your way, and I do it mine, but together we keep trying to manage death and our fear of it and trying to produce for ourselves everlasting life. Sometimes we even convince ourselves that we succeeded!
But thanks be to God, Jesus then is Jesus now. Crucified and risen, Jesus reveals himself among us and for us as alive and calling us to the living way. Surrender to Christ’s victory. Take courage: more rebirth is to come. Notice what the frame changes. Grieve with hope. Receive the peace of God.
With Jesus Christ, you also are firstfruits and firstborn of the dead, for the sake of the rebirth of the world.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith
God’s peace for usAnd the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7
This peace, we must confess, is beyond us! Paul said so three times. It’s “the peace of God” not of humans. It “surpasses all understanding,” so it’s a mystery to humans. And its “in Christ Jesus”—for us but beyond us.
In the face of death, we know terror and despair. Any peace, faith, hope, love, or courage we find is most certainly a gift of God’s grace, a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
So do not fear your fear of death or your feelings of loss or hopelessness. They are natural. Death truly is an enemy. And yet, Christ really is the firstborn of the dead.